Donald Shrimpton, a Niagara Falls New York native, was a musician, vocal music teacher and music director for over 50 years. He began playing piano at the age of four. While growing up in the fifties, he studied piano with Livingston Gearhart, Ned Rorem, Carlo Pinto, and at Freddie Jones’ Dance Studio and accompanied dance classes at Natalie Piatov Dance Studio. After graduating from Niagara Falls High School, he went to the University of Buffalo and earned his BA in Music Education. Beyond this he had more than 80 graduate credit hours in conducting, piano accompaniment and composition. He is also a graduate of the US Navy School of Music. In the late 1950s, he traveled extensively throughout New England doing equity musicals as part of a twin piano team with Stan Keene. His theatrical background includes shows with Howard Keel (Carousel), Steve Lawrence (Pal Joey), Kathryn Grayson (Showboat), Ann Blyth (King and I), Jayne Mansfield (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes), Buster Keaton (Once Upon a Mattress), and John Kander (Chicago) to name a few. In the 60’s and 70’s, Don played at John’s Flaming Hearth with his trio that included Danny Palazzo, and Tony Grasso. He played at the Alps Restaurant, Parkway Inn, The Glass Bar, Treadway Inn, The Whirlpool, Red Coach Inn, Monte Carlo and other area clubs. He performed with many Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame legacy inductees such as Johnny Barbara, Tony Scibilia, Sal Paonessa, Joe Leo, Jerry D’Amico, Joe Calato and many other local musicians. His choral background included work with Fred Waring, Don Besig, Robert Wagner, and Brock McLeheran. In 1977 he directed ‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’ for the New England Opera Associates in Boston, Massachusetts. In the 70’s and 80’s, while living in Old Forge, NY, he taught music at Town of Webb School, was the organist and choir director at St. Niccolls Church, and founded the Old Forge Community Chorus. He played piano at Rocky Point Inn and ballet classes for Suzanne Farrell, from the New York City Ballet Company. He was an accompanist for the Niagara County Music Educators Association Jazz Choir Festival. For 30-plus years, he was the accompanist for Shawnee Press Musical Workshops and Festivals. In 1997, he was Teacher of the Year and his biography was published in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. He retired as the vocal music teacher at Lewiston Porter Middle School in 2000 with his final choral concert being held at Artpark in Lewiston. He was a member of NYSSMA, NY State Teachers Association, Music Educators National Conference, American Guild of Organists, and the Musicians’ Union. In his spare time, he taught piano and was the musical accompanist for voice classes at Niagara County Community College as well as Niagara University. Locally, he was a musical director at Artpark, Niagara Falls Little Theater, NCCC, Buffalo Seminary, Melody Fair, Quad Productions, Niagara Fine Arts Program, the Retired Men’s Service Club Chorus and was the conductor and founder of the Rainbow City Philharmonic. Don was the first musical director (Fantasticks, 1966) at Niagara University with Brother Augustine Towey, C.M., and was director and founder of the NU Glee Club. In 2003, he was the musical director for its theater program, and founded the NU Show Choir/Theatre Chorale. In April 2010, he was musical director for ‘Anything Goes’ at the opening of NU’s new theater and the first NU Alumni production of ‘The World Goes Round’ by Kander and Ebb. In 2007, he founded and directed the Lewiston Choraleers, a community chorus with 50-plus members who performed yearly concerts, as well as performances at Walt Disney World and in Ireland. He toured with composer Joseph Martin and Harmony International to Washington, DC, accompanying the 200-plus American Tapestry Choir at a concert in Constitution Hall. He was the Minister of Music at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church for 20 years and continued his love for music by directing the Lewiston Choraleers from 2007 to his passing.
It is with great pleasure to honor and welcome Donald Shrimpton as a Legacy Inductee of the Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame Class of 2021.